Zingy Weeknight Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Zingy Weeknight Pasta! Don’t you love it when everything you need for a quick meal is right at your fingertips? Well, I do. This was one of those nights when everything in the fridge “must-go” simply because we were leaving on a trip the next day. I already had a jar of homemade marinara sauce, but feel free to substitute a store bought variety you probably keep in your pantry, next to the package of spaghetti. The chicken strips are frozen, grilled, and precooked. Don’t judge me. It works. Oh, and I actually served freshly grated parmesan cheese as a garnish, but we sprinkled it on at the table.

ZINGY WEEKNIGHT PASTA

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 green pepper, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3 cups prepared marinara

2 cups precooked grilled chicken strips, cut into chunks

1/2 pound sliced salami, cut into pieces

4 ounces spaghetti, cooked

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions:

In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped green pepper, chopped onion, and minced garlic. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and add marinara sauce. Meanwhile, microwave frozen chicken to thaw. Cut into chunks. Add chicken and salami to sauce. Stir to mix. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, but remove the pasta 4 minutes earlier than directed since we are going to add the spaghetti to the sauce to finish cooking. Once the spaghetti is prepared to that point, ladle some of the pasta water into the sauce, about 1/3 cup. This will add wonderful flavor and help thicken the sauce nicely. Now drain the spaghetti and add it to the sauce mixture, without rinsing. Let the spaghetti finish cooking until it is al dente. Serve in pasta bowls. Garnish with parmesan cheese. (Freeze any leftovers to serve when you return from a day of travel.)

The Chow Down

“Chowing Down”, what a charming expression. We’re all familiar with its meaning: to eat, especially at mealtime. It’s no secret I get great satisfaction from food, whether it’s an afternoon snack, evening appetizer, or late night sweet. Nowadays with the flux of farm-to-table and organic options, is it any wonder the allure of food is so enticing? Mealtime then becomes an all-star event. And speaking of stars…Some of my posts have received a nod from Le Cordon Bleu as well as the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive@DornaGail). Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, spotted me on Instagram @gail_dorna. This continuous journey of the palate gives me time with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? It’s as simple as A-B-C. I love to cook, and my husband loves that I do it often. Most recipes serve 2-4 people, but can be easily modified. Leftovers are golden morsels to be eaten later or shared with others. Seeing a smile of gratitude keeps me going. Now take a deep breath, inhale the aromas, and join me on a tasteful journey entitled, “EATING MY WAY THROUGH THE ALPHABET: THE CHOW DOWN!”

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Jamaican Jerk Chicken! I admit, I tend to take the path of least resistance. By the time I decided I was making this dish for dinner, all I had on hand was frozen chicken. Solution: Slow-cooker to the rescue. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my crockpot? Honestly, some days I’d be lost without it. Not only is the chicken tender and moist, but the citrusy-sweet-spicy glaze made it a perfect accompaniment for steamed sticky rice. Win! Win!

JAMAICAN JERK CHICKEN

Ingredients:

2-3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks

12 ounces nonalcoholic beer

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 cup puréed Habanero peppers

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons thyme

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons agave nectar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons natural honey

2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying

Instructions:

Place frozen chicken in crockpot. In a measuring cup add nonalcoholic beer, orange juice, lime juice, and Habanero purée. Stir to combine. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with cinnamon, allspice, thyme, and garlic powder. Add soy sauce, agave nectar, kosher salt, and olive oil. Pour over meat. Cover and cook 4 hours on High setting. After chicken is cooked, using a tongs, carefully transfer meat to a platter. Chicken will be very tender. Transfer drippings to a heatproof bowl. Add red pepper flakes and honey. Mix well. On the stovetop, heat an iron skillet on medium-high. Add olive oil. Transfer the chicken to the skillet. Add half the marinade to the skillet. Cook until the skin is crispy and deep brown or charred in places. Turn chicken over and repeat, adding more marinade. Reduce heat and simmer the sauce to thicken, about 5 minutes longer. Brush over the chicken as it thickens.

Cincinnati “Cottage” Ham

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Cincinnati “Cottage” Ham! W-h-a-a-a-t? When my husband requested something his mother used to cook that conjured up pleasant memories of his youth, I couldn’t refuse. He was raised in southwestern Ohio where traditional foods, like Cottage Ham, make up comfort food thrown together in one pot for a meal that practically makes your eyes roll back. Local butchers recognize the term since they’ve been using it for over a hundred years. Secret recipes include tender meat taken from the shoulder of the pig, salt-and-sugar cured, and then hickory wood-smoked. The name became popular in the 1800s because the Cottage Ham is small in size, just like a tiny house.

CINCINNATI “COTTAGE” HAM

Ingredients:

2-3 pound smoked pork shoulder butt

2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 onion, chopped

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, quartered

Instructions:

Place cottage ham in a slow cooker. Cover with water. Add green beans, sea salt, black pepper, and onions. Cook on Low 8 hours. Add quartered red potatoes. Cook 2 hours longer. Cut ham into thick pieces with green beans and potatoes. Ladle juice over all. Serve immediately.

Xavier Grilled Steak

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Xavier Grilled Steak! Just when you thought a juicy New York Strip steak couldn’t get any better, here you go. Grilled to taste, smothered in gooey Swiss cheese and crowned with fresh asparagus spears is a meal-in-one guaranteed to make anyone feel like royalty. For those who love onions, take it one step further. Sprinkle crispy French-fried onions over all before serving. Looks good, doesn’t it? Try not to stare.

XAVIER GRILLED STEAK

Ingredients:

2 New York Strip steaks, 1 1/2 inches thick

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

10 asparagus spears, ends trimmed

4 slices Swiss cheese

1/4 cup French-fried onions

Instructions:

Rub both sides of the New York Strip steak with olive oil. Season to taste with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place in a shallow dish. Marinate steak for 45 minutes in the refrigerator, turning once. Remove from refrigerator to allow meat to come to room temperature, approximately 15 minutes. Preheat outdoor grill. Cook steaks over medium heat 4-5 minutes until slightly charred. Turn the steaks over and grill 3 minutes longer for medium-rare, 5 minutes longer for medium, or 8 minutes longer for medium-well. Meanwhile to steam asparagus spears, bring water to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Place asparagus spears into the steamer basket. Cover and steam approximately 3-5 minutes until asparagus turns bright green, but is still tender. Remove from steamer. When steaks are cooked to perfection, place them on a platter to rest so the juices are absorbed. (This is the secret to juicy steak.) While the meat is resting, place two slices of Swiss cheese on each. Divide asparagus spears between them. Tent with foil. Let rest 5-7 minutes. Top with crispy French-fried onions before serving.

Lo Mein Made Simple

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Lo Mein Made Simple! Do you ever go to the refrigerator and wonder what to make for dinner? I do. Recently my leftovers consisted of a couple of pork tenderloin fillets, grilled over the weekend, plus some veggies in the produce bin. Not quite enough. Unless you throw them all together in an amazing sauce. I didn’t exactly have Lo Mein egg noodles, but I did have some dried pasta on hand. Who doesn’t? The results were mouth-watering!

LO MEIN MADE SIMPLE

Ingredients:

8 ounces angel hair pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

8 baby carrots, julienned

1/2 cup fresh snow peas

1 cup baby spinach

1 tablespoon pimento, sliced

2 pork fillets, grilled and cut up

Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Green onion snips for garnish

Ingredients for sauce:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons agave nectar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, agave nectar, sesame oil, ground ginger, sriracha, and red pepper flakes. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil, sliced mushrooms, garlic powder, and carrot strips. Cook 3-4 minutes until tender, stirring frequently. Add snow peas, baby spinach, and pimento slices. Stir until spinach has wilted. Add pork fillet chunks. Heat through. Add cooked pasta and soy sauce mixture. Gently toss to combine. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onion snips. Serve immediately.

Drunken Chicken Tenders

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Drunken Chicken Tenders! For those who hate to drink alone, here’s a recipe even Julia Child would approve. Just kidding. Actually, when cooking with wine, the alcohol evaporates as the food cooks, leaving behind an incredible flavor loaded with natural moisture. There’s nothing worse than dry chicken, in my opinion. And we’ve all been there. If you think of wine as a fat substitute in recipes, it all begins to make sense why the French eat the way they do and still maintain a healthy weight. Give it a try.

DRUNKEN CHICKEN TENDERS

Ingredients:

16 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced

3 tablespoons butter, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup dry Marsala wine

1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken tenders

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup flour

1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1-2 cups cherry tomatoes

Fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions:

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and wine. Simmer gently to reduce the wine, stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes, add cornstarch, cream, and sea salt. Stir as it thickens. Set aside. To prepare the chicken, combine flour, Herbes de Provence, and black pepper on waxed paper. Toss the chicken until coated on both sides. Shake off excess. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Pan-fry the chicken tenders for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through. Add sauce and mushrooms to the skillet with the chicken tenders. Top with cherry tomatoes. Simmer until the tomatoes are soft. Garnish with fresh parsley.

The Luck ‘o the Irish: Corned Beef Brisket

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food Junkie Favorites: Corned Beef Brisket! Eating corned beef brisket isn’t just for St. Patrick’s Day anymore. However, it’s the best time to stock up when it’s popular and readily available at the nearby market. Go from the traditional favorite dinner one day to corned beef hash and eggs the next morning and Reuben sliders for a late night snack. Are you getting the idea? Be creative and tell me yours!

CORNED BEEF BRISKET

Ingredients:

3-pound corned beef brisket, boneless

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1 tablespoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon bay leaves

1 cup ginger beer or water

1-pound baby carrots, peeled

4 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon paprika

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Place corned beef brisket, fat side up, in a covered roaster. Sprinkle spices on top. Add 1 cup of ginger beer or water. Cover and roast for three hours. The guideline is one hour per pound. After 2 hours add carrots to roaster. Cover and cook for 1 hour. At that time, the contents should be fork tender. Let the brisket rest for 15 minutes before slicing across the grain. Remove carrots and place in a bowl. Add butter to coat. Sprinkle with paprika.

BOILED CABBAGE

Ingredients:

1 head of cabbage

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

Instructions:

In a deep pan, add 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add cabbage quarters and salt. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Turn cabbage with tongs. Simmer 5 minutes longer until tender. Drain well. Add butter to coat cabbage thoroughly.

PARSLEY BOILED POTATOES

Ingredients:

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into sections

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon parsley

Instructions:

Place potatoes in 2 quart saucepan. Pour in enough water to cover. Add salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook potatoes 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain. Add butter to coat. Garnish with parsley.

Pulled Pork Barbecue Flatbread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Pulled Pork BBQ Flatbread! I love prepared flatbreads. In fact, I always pick up a couple from my grocer’s deli to keep on hand. The possibilities are endless for a quick meal without scrambling for the fast-food drive-through. I freeze containers of leftover meats that were slow-cooked earlier, so as to have healthy options at home, such as today’s pork tenderloin. If need be, there are prepackaged resources at your local grocery store as well. Being flexible with time-saving choices is always a “Win”, in my opinion.

PULLED PORK BBQ FLATBREAD

Ingredients:

1 prepared flatbread

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cornmeal

1/2 cup BBQ sauce, any variety

1 pound pork tenderloin, cooked and shredded

2 eggs

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

Dash of white pepper

1/2 cup Spring Mix, chopped

1 green onion, snipped

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Brush flatbread with olive oil on both sides; sprinkle bottom with cornmeal. Bake 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Spoon BBQ sauce evenly over flatbread. Cover all with shredded pork. Create a “well” for each egg. Gently crack an egg into each “well”. Sprinkle eggs with seasoned salt and white pepper. Bake 8-10 minutes until eggs are set. If the crust becomes too brown, cover it with foil, leaving the egg portion uncovered. When eggs are cooked, remove from oven. Add chopped Spring Mix and green onion snips.